UP THE LADDER BY KAREEM RAHMAN (EXTENDED PREVIEW)

 

 

 

 

Damiko was one of those dudes who didn’t fit in anywhere. He did not want to live in the hood forever. Damiko always said if he ever got out of this muthafucka’, he was never coming back. Not even for a quick visit. It would seem like legality would be Damiko’s answer to getting out of the hood. Get a job, save up some money, maybe get his credit score up along the way, and go about handling his business of getting out of the hood. Miko refused to work a 9-5 though. He was not giving some job and boss all of his good years for a $1500/month social security check when he turned 70-years old in return. People who didn’t want to work a 9-5 usually turned to the streets to make a buck in the hood. But Miko didn’t want to do that either. Miko refused to put himself in a position to be giving years and years of his life to the state or worse, the feds. Selling drugs to make a buck was not in the cards for Miko. It used to be though. Miko had a nice little run in the drug game back in the day. I mean, he didn’t get rich or anything, but he did pretty well for himself. Miko got popped with 9 ounces of crack and a loaded .380 handgun. That was enough to get a convicted felon a 15-year stretch. Miko did a 12-piece and some change on the 15-year prison sentence, and found himself coming home, a 35-year old adult who had never had a legal job in his life. Miko came home from prison in early 2015 with 3 and a half years probation to walk off. Miko maintained a job for those three and a half years. He worked at a few non-skilled, entry level gigs. Retail, construction, and assembly line work. Miko moved into his mom’s old house in North Philly. The same house he’d grown up in as a child. He was always making close to minimum wage, but Miko was managing to get by with his low paying gigs. The problem was, Miko didn’t want to get by. He wanted to get over. The only thing that kept Miko with a legal job for those three years was the constant reminder from his probation officer that he needed to have a job or be enrolled in some type of schooling. If he wasn’t, he would be sent back to prison on a violation of probation charge. Miko followed the rules. 12-years of your life spent behind bars was hella’ motivation for most people to never want to go back! The very day that Miko’s “completion of probation” papers came in the mail he quit his job. Miko had no plans for anything, but he’d always believed that he was put on this Earth to do a lot more than be an employee. After doing that 12-piece, Miko came to believe that he wasn’t put on this Earth to sell drugs either! But Miko believed that there was more to his life. More to his life than the every day “going ons” in the hood. Miko turned to the internet to find himself a hustle that did not take much money to set up, and more importantly, wasn’t a 9-5 that came fully equipped with a boss. Miko simply did a Google search for “Ways to make money from home.”

 

 

The first hustle from home project Miko took on was writing and self-publishing a book. Writing a book was hard work. That shit takes some people years and years to complete. But most people weren’t like Miko. Practically all of Miko’s whole life was spent dreaming. Even when Miko was out doing, the dreams that played out in his mind were always rolling. Turning a dream into a fictional book was pretty easy work for Miko. He wrote his first full-length book in 10-days. 10-days! A 300 page book. The book Miko wrote was similar to the ones he’d read in prison dozens of times. Hell, they were pretty similar to the life he once lived. The classic, hood drug dealer makes it big and puts his money into the music business novel. Miko titled his book “Dreamz & Nightmarez.” It was a pretty good book. At least, Miko thought so. Writing a book had been much easier than Miko had expected it to be. The hard part was self-publishing the joint. That part was going to take a little time to figure out. Self-publishing also meant self promotion, self editing, and self creative director. Those were some of the main reasons authors sacrificed a cut of their royalties to sign with a major publishing company. That, and the upfront advance check. Miko needed some money for advertising, or either a shitload of social media followers. Getting either one was going to take some time. In the meantine, Miko survived by going to garage sales, yard sales, and thrift shops and buying things for a low price. He turned around and sold the used goods on Ebay or Amazon. Sometimes for a pretty nice profit. That was cool and all, but that wasn’t going to be enough. Miko was in need of something bigger. Miko scoured the internet mostly all day in search of his next “make easy money from home” project. When he wasn’t doing that, he was chilling with one of two people, sometimes both.

 

 

In the 12-years that Damiko had been locked up, damn near everything changed in his North Philly neighborhood. Half of the people he once ran with were in prison or dead. The other half was like Mack. Just out there. Mack was one of the few people Damiko’s age who’d managed to play in the game without becoming highly succesful and turning their once illegal money into something legal, getting locked up, getting killed, or becoming addicted to the same drugs he’d once sold. Mack was just still out there. Not doing anything major, just on the block doing enough to get by. There were no misconceptions about the hood today. The younger generation ran that shit. Wild youngsters who were in their early to mid 20’s ran the streets. The same way that guys like Miko and Mack ran those same streets when they were in their 20’s. Dudes in their 30’s and older were simply something most youngsters accepted and tolerated out of respect. A lot of them were friends of their older brothers, uncles, and even fathers. Mack was flipping a little something on the block. Mack was only flipping a little ounce, but he did manage to sell it all maybe every three or four days. Mack had been in the streets so long that he’d realized he was never going to be a Pablo Escobar or anything like that. Mack was just flipping a little coke to basically survive. Mack had also been in the streets long enough to realize things had changed drastically from how they once were. The little bit he put out on the block he never sold himself. Mack mostly worked off of his burner phone. He didn’t even need a lot of customers. He just made sure that his customers had an understanding that he only delivered orders of $100 or more. How his customers got that $100 was up to them. They could pool their money together or go at it alone. Mack didn’t give a fuck. All that concerned him, was that he wasn’t taking the chance of driving somewhere to deliver crack if it wasn’t at least a $100 sale in it for him. When you had good coke, you could make those types of demands. Mack was one of the few people Miko really communicated with on any type of regular basis. Miko went out of his way to steer clear of the youngsters around the way. They were always into something. Your dumb ass could be standing next to them just minding your business and Bam! Somebody comes from out of nowhere, who had some type of beef with one of them, fuck around and shoot the entire area up, and you’re left laying there dead. And your dumb ass is in heaven or hell wondering why. Nah, Miko wasn’t going anywhere near that shit. Mack and Miko had never really been “hang out every day” type of friends back in the day. The thing that made them somewhat close today was that they were pretty much the last of their dying generation. Association by familiarity. It was safe to say that the two were something like close friends. But even Miko’s close friend found Miko to be a little weird. Miko never bothered to tell Mack about any of the big dreams he had, or even the things he currently did to make money. Miko was sure that a dude like Mack just could not understand. Mack was one of those people who needed to see something to believe it was real. Selling crack was something Mack could see that brought him in real money. That dreaming shit was not in the cards for someone like Mack. His philosophy was that, you’re doing something, or doing nothing. There was no in-between with him. Mack could be a little….. I don’t know, close minded? Out of touch with any type of reality that didn’t include things he already knew? Stubborn? You pick one. They all described Mack perfectly. Even still, Mack was one of two people in this world that Miko didn’t really mind spending time around.

 

 

The other person Miko spent a pretty substantial amount of time around was Armani. Just like Mack, Armani was one of a few people from the old days that still lived in the hood. Armani and Miko had never been particularly close back in the day, the same way Miko and Mack had not really been close back in the day. Back then, Armani was one of those chicks no one really understood. Just like Miko and Mack, Armani was all about a dollar. That wasn’t what some people didn’t understand about her. What people didn’t understand about Armani was some of the questionable ways Armani went about obtaining a buck. Back in the day Armani had probably done more dirt than your most notorious neighborhood stick-up kid. She’d never held a gun in her hands a day in her life either. Armani was complicated. There was a lot of good and bad to her. I won’t pass any judgement though. I’ll leave that up to you…….

 

 

Armani was a pretty up and up, “hoping to get ahead in life” kind of chick all the way up until shortly before her 18th birthday. Armani was fresh out of high school and trying to decide where her life was going. College was out of the question. With no scholarships on the table, that only left one option. Getting a bunch of loans and hoping for some grants along the way. Armani didn’t have the main luxury that most 17 and a half year olds had. Parents to fall back on. Armani’s mom passed away when she was 14-years old. Armani’s dad was never in the picture. She didn’t even know who that joker was, and honestly didn’t give a shit either. Armani had been living in the projects with her older sister Fendi since her mom passed away. But living with Fendi was pretty much like living alone. Well, not exactly. Fendi had five kids. When I say living alone, I meant that Armani grew up without any type of parental supervision. Fendi was a down-low crackhead who was always out running the streets. The only time Fendi was at home was when she’d brought some random dude back to the crib to have sex with. Fendi’s kids’ ranged from 5-12-years old. They basically took care of themselves. Armani played her part, but she honestly felt like they weren’t her responsibility. Fendi was 26-years old and had already gave up on life. Her self esteem took a blow when she gained some major weight after her last two kids. Those two had the same father. When Fendi’s weight began to tip up near 300 pounds, dude got ghost and never came back. That’s when Fendi began smoking crack laced with weed. Contrary to popular belief, crack was not a better weight loss product than Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig………at least not in Fendi’s case. Ol’ girl was still pushing over 300, even with her $50 a day crack cocaine habit. Anyway, back to Armani. Armani had managed to finish high school and even more incredibly, not get pregnant. I say incredibly, because Armani got out there early. With no type of parental supervision, what did you really expect? Armani was a very pretty chick, even as a 15-year old. Armani found the attention, and what felt like love, she was not getting at home, in boys. Or should I say boyssss. By the time she was 16-years old, Armani had gained a reputation as being the biggest freak in the neighborhood. Sometimes, when dealing with teenagers, people get a bad rap. It’s a known fact that teenage boys tend to lie on their dicks. This wasn’t the case with Armani. She was really an easy lay. No cap. With all of the sexual partners and unprotected sex she’d had between the ages of 14-17, Armani had miraculously managed to not contract an STD or get pregnant by age 18. Lady luck had really been on her side. The first time Armani had sex, she was 14-years old. She had unprotected sex with Mark from 1st period English class. The second time Armani had sex was three days later. She had protected sex with Larry from third period Science class. Armani made up her mind that she liked unprotected sex better than condom sex, and she had been rolling the dice ever since. Armani’s issues began when she met a low-level drug dealer named Gata at a carnival across town on 22nd Street. Armani had sex with Gata the same night they met. Unlike the multiple dudes she slept with in the hood, Gata was after more than a one-night stand. Gata fell in love with Armani. The two were living together in Gata’s house less than a week after they met. Gata was 21-years old. At least 10 of those years had been spent in the drug game. Gata was not a big-time drug dealer, but as a lower level guy, he did pretty well for himself. He had his own apartment and a nice little car. And more importantly to Armani, having money, taking care of his woman, or paying bills never seemed to be a problem for Gata. Armani had found something that she thought was better than college or any of that other shit. The love of her life. Armani was pregnant two weeks after moving in with Gata. He took care of everything. Armani didn’t even need to think about working. Gata took care of all of her needs. Three months after their child was born, Gata was killed at a crap game on Park Avenue. Armani lost it. She was one of the lucky people in this world who had found her soulmate. And he had been taken away from her in the blink of an eye. Not only that. Gata had been her support system, provider, and protector. Gata had been her backbone. And now her backbone had left her alone in this world…..with a young child to care for. Armani took her child and moved back in the projects with Fendi. Armani was back in the hood after being away for a year, and the hood couldn’t be happier. Armani was also in a bad place mentally. She was still trying to get over the pain of losing Gata. Armani left her oldest niece to care for her young son while she went out in search of comfort? I don’t know. What I do know, is that Armani slept with every dude who wanted to sleep with her. And there were many! In a just world, Armani would’ve been a model, actress, or just someone who was famous for being pretty. Armani was just as pretty or prettier than any famous person you can think of. Armani was a thin chick before she had her son. She was still thin, but the baby weight had done her well. Her ass got fatter and her breats had got a lot bigger. Armani was still having unprotected sex too. To no one’s surprise, Armani popped up pregnant again. Out of all of the people she had sex with, she fucked around and got pregnant by the very worst of them. A dirty ass joker from Dauphin Street named Akbar. Akbar was dirty in every sense of the word “dirty.” He was a broke, dusty ass dude, but he also stole anything that wasn’t nailed down, from anyone. Armani and Akbar was supposed to be a one-night stand kind of thing. But when Akbar found out Armani was pregnant he moved into Fendi’s house with her. Honestly, Akbar didn’t move in with Armani out of concern for his unborn child, or wanting to be a family, or any of that shit. He moved in with Armani because he didn’t have anywhere else to live. That dirty bitch was homeless. Akbar was about 25-years old. He had been low-key smoking crack for five of those twenty five. Akbar was a survivor though. He did whatever it took to make a dollar, besides actual legal work. He stole car stereos, snatched women’s pocketbooks, and robbed drug dealers. He also was one of the best boosters in the neighborhood…..whenever you could convince him to go out stealing. Akbar was the person to introduce Armani to the world of stealing clothes from stores A.K.A “boosting.”

 

 

Akbar started taking Armani out to high-end stores in the suburbs with him when she was 6 months pregnant. As you probably suspected, her pregnant belly played a role in the thievery. Armani was a natural from the very beginning. The two hit a Gucci store for over $10,000 worth of clothes on their first route together. They brought their bounty back to the hood and sold everything half price in less than an hour. It was on and poppin’ after that. Akbar and Armani became like the Robin Hood’s of the neighborhood. They stole from the rich and brought that shit back to the hood and sold it half price. Things were actually going pretty good for the two. Akbar had even curbed his crack habit for awhile. Armani never knew about his habit even though she’d kind of suspected something. She’d heard things from people around the way, and money she had stashed in the house always mysteriously went missing, but Armani had no solid evidence that her baby daddy was a crackhead. When the seasons changed from fall to winter, the Robin Hood thieves started doing better than ever. Coats and boots sold for a lot more than t-shirts and sneakers. When the money started getting good, Akbar fell back into his old ways. After a nice lick, he spent days at a time at crackhouses trying to smoke his life away. Smoking crack became the most important thing in life to Akbar. Armani could never find him when she was ready to go out boostin’. She started going out alone. Without Akbar there to watch her back, Armani got popped on her way out of the Louis Vuitton store. She was in possession of over $10,000 worth of stolen goods. Armani was held at the county jail, sitting on a $5000 cash bail that she could not make. Armani was 7 months pregnant with her unborn second child at the time. Armani had her second child while in jail. A baby girl she named Tianni. Akbar never got the chance to see his daughter. He got killed inside of a crackhouse after stealing some drugs from one of the young dealers. That happened a month after Armani got locked up. Being locked up, having a child in jail, and finding out the father of that child had been killed in a crackhouse was not the worst thing that happened to Armani. While she was locked up, Gata’s parents had been granted custody of Armani’s son. Armani was so beatdown and felling defeated that she did not even contest it. Armani’s cousin took custody of her brand new baby girl for Armani while she was in jail. Armani was happy. The last thing she wanted to do was to have to leave her newborn in Fendi’s care. Armani ended up doing 13 months in the county jail before she was released. She never went to get her daughter from her cousin. Armani’s cousin was actually happy because she’d fallen in love with the little girl.

 

 

Armani was back on the streets with two kids. Neither of which she had custody of. You’d think something like that would be enough to depress a young woman. Not Armani. She was back on the streets with no responsibilities. She was flat broke though. Armani was on probation. She wasn’t trying to go back to boostin’ just yet, but she needed money to survive. She went back to Fendi’s apartment in the projects and back to fucking anything that moved. Only this time, the pussy was not free. For people around the way, Armani was not a free fuck…..she wasn’t exactly an expensive one either. Armani charged a person based on her current standing and sometimes who you were. If Armani needed money for something, you were going to need to bring your checkbook. But if Armani had money already and was just looking for sex, you might get that for as cheap as a couple bags of weed or a grub from the deli. Like I said, it depended on which day of the week you caught up to her. Either way, dudes paid. No one ever complained either. Armani was still the baddest chick around and her goods were still in high demand. Dudes were willing to pay whatever for sex with Armani. She looked at it in a different way. Armani actually enjoyed sex. The sucking, the fucking, the licking, the eating. She really liked all of it. Not only was she getting it from different people every day of the week, she was also getting paid for it. Armani looked at it as a win-win. Everybody knew Armani was the neighborhood hoe, but even still……there’s always that one person. That one person who falls in love regardless of the reputation. That one person was Tyreke. Tyreke was the polar opposite of her last baby daddy, Akbar. Tyreke despised drugs. He hated drug dealers even more. Tyreke was an exterminator who considered himself a neighborhood vigilante. He was younger than Armani, which was definitely different for her. Armani was two months away from her 24th birthday when she met Tyreke. He was about to turn 20 in three months when they met. Armani had always known Tyreke. He lived in her building. She’d always known he’d liked her too. She always looked at him as a little ass boy though. That changed when Armani ran into Tyreke in the lobby at 3:30 one morning. He was fresh off of his latest robbery of a dumb ass drug dealer working the late-night shift, and she was in desperate need of some money. Armani took Tyreke upstairs to the apartment, and he never left afterwards. Tyreke was in love with Armani. She didn’t love Tyreke. She really liked him, and he was a pretty solid provider, but she didn’t love him. She couldn’t love him. He wasn’t capable of satisfying her sexually. Armani may have had sex with hundreds of people, but one thing about her, when she was in a relationship with someone she was loyal……usually…….most times. Armani was not loyal to Tyreke. She was fucking like she was a single woman. Every time Tyreke turned his back, Armani was fucking someone else. But she liked Tyreke though. She even respected him. Just like Akbar, Tyreke recruited Armani into his hustle/scheme. Tyreke’s hustle was a hell of a lot more dangerous than Akbar’s though. Tyreke robbed drug dealers. Not only did he rob them, he usually killed them. Tyreke had usually had to go after corner boys before he met Armani. They were good for a few dollars here and there. But with a pretty chick like Armani by his side, Tyreke knew that he could now go after the bigger drug dealers, and some bigger bucks.

 

 

Tyreke spent his nights staking out all of the nightclubs that the big ballas and shot callers in the city frequented. If you sent Armani to any club in the city all eyes were going to be on her. Tyreke took full advantage of that knowledge. Tyreke was a stone cold killer, but he was no dummy. The big balling clubs in Philly attracted people from the entire tri-state area. Tyreke tried to target people he didn’t recognize, or people that he guessed were not from Philadelphia. You could lay down a couple corner boys who weren’t from your neighborhood and not have to worry about heavy reprucussions, but big money dudes were a different story. You had to be careful when robbing those guys. Tyreke knew that he would never be seen though. If anything, a person was only going to suspect Armani. Ironically, he was o.k. with that. If things went all the way left, he would be able to protect Armani as long as he remained annonymous. After staking out the club and doing a little research on the club regulars, Tyreke picked a target. Some dumb joker from some part of Jersey. Tyreke got word that he might be from Camden. This dude came to the club draped in at least $100,000 worth of jewelry every weekend. He drove a black Rolls Royce Phantom. He was also, always surrounded by at least 10 homies/security who were definitely packing heat. Approaching that dude and trying to rob him was basically a suicide mission. Tyreke pointed Armani in the dudes’ direction, and she went to work. It took Armani all of five minutes of talking to get the dude to invite her back to his hotel room. Tyreke’s plan was to run up in the hotel room once Armani got the guy up in there. As she left the club with her target, Armani waved Tyreke off with a blink of the eye. A signal they had worked out prior to arriving at the club. That meant the whole thing was off for whatever reason. Tyreke couldn’t understand why she was leaving the club with the dude if she had called the whole robbery off. What Armani quickly discovered that Tyreke did not know, was that dude’s security was not leaving his side for any reason. Yes, she would be alone with him inside the hotel room, but his security would be standing by right outside the door. Tyreke’s plan was impossible. He wasn’t getting up in that room. Armani had a little plan of her own though.

 

 

Armani’s first targets’ name was Judge. That wasn’t his real name. It was a name that he’d earned. Judge wasn’t just a big shot in Camden. He was THEE big shot in Camden. Judge ran everything drug related. He got the name Judge because he was the decider of all things in Camden. Judge decided who got money in the city and who didn’t. Judge decided who died and who lived. Judge was a dark-skinned, big dude who weighed close to 300 pounds. The only working out Judge did on a daily basis was counting money. Before Armani and Judge even got to the hotel room, Armani had already made up her mind that she was likely going to have to fuck Judge to rob him correctly. Tyreke didn’t know this, and honestly, he didn’t need to. The goal was to get the bag. Period! Judge clearly had no idea that Armani had already made up her mind to fuck him tonight because he was still trying to impress her even after they arrived at his luxurious penthouse suite. Judge ordered up bottle after bottle of the most expensive champagne the hotel had in stock. That played directly into Armani’s hand. She excused herself to go to the restroom. Once inside the bathroom Armani got to work. She pulled out five Oxycotin pills she had in her purse and crushed them up. She wrapped the crushed contents up into a small piece of aluminum foil before strategically placing it in her bra. Armani headed back into the room. The second Judge stepped out of the room to take a “business” call, Armani slipped the Oxy into Judge’s drink and stirred it up. Judge came back into the room and swallowed the contents of his glass in one big gulp. Now all Armani really had to do was wait. Armani decided that it might be better for Judge to wake up in the bed whenever he woke up sometime tomorrow. Maybe he would think he spent all his money at the club the night before. Armani walked over to Judge and placed a passionate kiss on his lips. He slipped his hand up her skirt and was ready to go at it right there in the living room. Armani convinced him to take her to the bedroom so she could really get “freaky.” No man in their right minds was going to say no to that! Judge laid back on the bed when the two entered the room. He laid on his back as he stretched across the bed. It was pretty clear that he was already on his way to dreamland. Armani removed his pants and mounted the big man. She rode him reverse cowgirl for five minutes before Judge came. Armani didn’t bother to stop or get up off of the dick. She was caught up in the moment and felt like she wasn’t too far away from achieving an orgasm of her own. Armani began to thrust up and down harder in pursuit of the big ‘O’ that she was sure was about to come. Time was not on her side. It wouldn’t be too long before Judge was soft…..and useless. Armani turned around when she heard Judge snoring loudly. She was about to cuss his sleeping ass out until she suddenly came to her senses. Armani quickly got up off of Judge and headed straight for his pants which she’d strategically threw in the corner when she pulled them off. 50 grand in the pants pockets alone. Armani took less than 20 of that. Armani crept through the suite as she expertly searched every place she thought money may be hidden. Armani hit the jackpot when she searched inside the cushions of the couch in the living room. Judge had placed stacks and stacks of money under the couch cushions. He must’ve been planning to stay in Philly for a few days because there were easily six figures laying under the cushions. Everything inside of her was telling her to take it all. The voice of reason won the battle against the greedy voice in her head. Armani grabbed what she thought would be an unnoticable amount of money and stuffed it into her pocketbook. Armani called Tyreke and told her which hotel she was at. She told him to meet her in the parking lot in an hour. Unbeknownst to Armani, Tyreke was already there. He’d followed Judge and his entourage from the club. Armani poured herself a drink and turned on the tv before taking a seat on the couch.

 

 

Judge’s henchmen were waiting directly outside of Judge’s hotel room as she’d expected. She told them he was in there sleep as she made her way to the elevator. One of the henchmen nodded his head like this was Judge’s normal routine. Hit the cheeks then kick the chick to the curb in the middle of the night. The henchman gave Armani five thousand dollars that he said was from Judge for her services. Armani met up with Tyreke outside in the parking lot. The pair didn’t count their bounty until they stopped to get something to eat at a Mcdonalds around the way. $35,000 was the take for the night. And Tyreke hadn’t had to kill anyone or even pull out his gun. Armani and Tyreke split the money right down the middle. $17,500 was enough to last a few weeks or even months, unlike the few hundreds or thousands Armani used to make from boostin’. This was not the type of hustle that a person needed to do every day in order to survive. Armani knew she had found herself a new hustle and a new hustle partner. Armani and Tyreke began pulling jobs at clubs around the city every few weeks or so. Tyreke had gotten really good at picking out targets too. He was lining up some big money dudes who weren’t from the city. Even some athletes and rappers. Armani and Tyreke had the perfect hustle going. A few months after her first job, Armani started to get a familiar feeling. She’d already had two kids. Armani knew her body. She was 100% sure that she was pregnant. She was also 100% sure that the baby was not Tyreke’s. I honestly believe that Tyreke was 100% sure the baby Armani was pregnant with wasn’t his too, but he took the charge. He loved Armani, and honestly had no idea Armani was fucking the guys she was robbing. Plus, this was going to be his first child. There was no way in hell he wasn’t claiming this baby. Armani had a strong feeling deep down inside of her gut that her very first victim was the father of her unborn child. The worst part about having a robbery baby, was that even if she knew where Judge was, she could never tell him. She had no idea if he knew he had been robbed that night, or if he was out looking for revenge. He lived in New Jersey, was rich, and probably didn’t even care about the little money she robbed him for that night…..she hoped. When Tyreke found out Armani was pregnant with “his child”, he told her that they were putting their little hustle on hold until after the child was born. But he wanted to hit one last good lick to keep them with some money to live on until they could go back to work. Tyreke was out looking for a big fish. Scratch that. Tyreke was looking for a fuckin’ whale! After a few weeks of searching, Tyreke found his target. Some weird ass DJ named Skeet-Skeet out of D.C. Skeet-Skeet was a pretty big deal in the underground techno music scene. He made bank dj’ing all up and down the East Coast. Currently, he was the in-house DJ at a club on the Waterfront called “Desire.” Desire didn’t host a hip-hop type of crowd. This crowd was more molly addicted, white, college-type weirdos. This was exactly what made Skeet-Skeet an attractive target to Tyreke, who was used to dealing with straight up street gangsters. How dangerous could one of these weirdos really be?

 

 

Armani headed out to club Desire the Saturday after Tyreke said he was finished doing research on the target. Normally Armani could just head up to the V.I.P area to get close to her mark. Getting close to Skeet-Skeet was going to be a little different. She didn’t need to get up on the stage where the dj was located, but she did need to position herself somewhere that she could definitely be seen by the DJ. Armani headed up to the crowded front where, what felt like hundreds of people were dancing wildly and enjoying themselves, as they let the combination of multiple drugs and loud music control their bodies…and hormones. The dance floor was almost like a fully clothed orgy the way people touched and grinded on random strangers. This was exactly where Armani did not want to be. The random people grabbing her body parts and rubbing themselves up against her was bad, but that was something she could deal with. The issue Armani had was this many people seeing her. She liked to blend in with the crowd when she did her jobs. Armani got to the front and danced with anyone near her as she attempted to blend in with the drug infused crowd. She was hoping to blend in and stand out at the same time. She was hoping to stand out to only one pair of eyes though. Armani danced for maybe two full songs before a tall, burly, bearded, white guy tapped her on the shoulder and whispered in her ear.

“Skeet-Skeet wants to know if he could get a couple minutes of your time?”

Armani looked up toward the DJ booth and immediately spotted the infamous DJ Skeet-Skeet who was staring at her like she was a full three-course meal. Armani nodded to the burly guy before she followed behind him and allowed herself to be lead off the dance floor. To her surprise, Armani never made it upstairs to the DJ booth. Skeet-Skeet was waiting for her inside of the private stairwell that lead up to the booth. He licked his lips as her and the burly man made their way into the staircase. Skeet-Skeet dismissed burly man with a wave of the hand.

“Thanks Show. I got it from here.”

Show nodded before he turned and walked away, leaving Armani alone in the stairwell with Skeet 2X. Skeet turned his attention to Armani after Show closed the door and disappeared.

“You the finest bitch I’ve seen in here tonight. And the luckiest one too. You just won the raffle to leave out of this muthafucka’ with a certified winner.”

If this was real life, Armani would’ve laughed at this cornball. Skeet looked like his entire character was made up of the “Jersey Shore” cast. Not any one inparticular. Skeet seemed to take charcteristics from each one of the Jersey Shore men, and had miraculously managed to roll all that shit up into one weird ass person. Skeet’s face resembled “Mike The Situation’s”, his hair was slicked down similar to Vinny’s, his outfit looked like something you might find in Paulie D’s closet, and his physique was similar to Ronnie’s. Skeet clearly couldn’t chose which cast member he wanted to emulate, so he’d taken it upon himself to pick all of them. Just the thought of that shit made Armani want to laugh. She didn’t though. By this time, Armani considered herself a professional at this robbing shit, and as a professional, she always stayed in character. Tonight she was playing “the groupy”, but not the easy kind.

“Show?”

Armani said the one word as a question which had Skeet completely confused.

“Huh?”

“You called that guy Show. What the hell kind of name is that?”

Skeet laughed as he realized what she was talking about.

“Oh naw! Show is short for Showtime. He’s a former boxer. Middleweight champ too. Showtime is his nickname. I just call him Show. I’m the type of guy who doesn’t use lots of words, I’m all about that action.”

Skeet said as he moved in close to Armani and began sniffing her neck. The neck sniffing quickly turned to kisses on the neck as Skeet bent down and grabbed two handfuls of Armani’s ass. Armani allowed it to happen and also encouraged more as she reached down and grabbed a handful of Skeet’s dick. Skeet quickly let his hands wander inside of Armani’s panties as he attempted to shove a couple of fingers into her asshole. Armani pushed him away and took a step back.

“You just gonna fuck me right here in the stairwell huh?”

Skeet nodded before he attempted to move back in. He was stopped by Armani’s hand to his face.

“Yeah….No. If you’re trying to get with me tonight, it won’t be in the damn stairwell. I’m not one of your teenage fans.”

Skeet rubbed his chin and smiled as he looked at Armani. The chase was the best part of the entire game in Skeet’s eyes.

“Oh, you must be tryna bust it open for a real one all night long. You tryna head back to my hotel with me tonight?”

Armani nonchalantly shrugged.

“I damn sure ain’t tryna be fuckin’ in no damn stairwell.”

Skeet smiled and nodded before he started dialing numbers on his cell phone.

“Yeah, get your ass in here now.”

Skeet said into the phone. Seconds later Show appeared. Before he even had a chance to say anything, Skeet was already barking out orders.

“Aye Show, take this fine ass piece of ass to my room. And get your ass right back here afterward!”

Skeet turned to Armani.

“And I’ll meet you over there after I finish my set sweet thang!”

Skeet kissed Armani on the lips before he turned and headed up the stairs.

Armani left the club with Show. He drove her over to Skeet’s plush hotel suite at the Ritz Plaza in Center City. Show opened the door to the Suite and turned on the lights. The suite that Skeet was staying in was absolutely gorgeous. It had two stories, wall to wall heated wood floors. A huge kitchen and living room. And one of those huge 80 inch televisions on the wall in the living room. A balcony overlooking the city. And a huge walk in shower that sprayed streams of waters from the bottom sides and overhead. This suite was something you’d see on that “Million Dollar Homes” show. And all Armani could see was the first floor. Armani made a promise to herself right then that one day she was going to have one of these. Not rent it for a few nights like cornball ass Skeet. Armani was going to own one of these joints! Fully paid, no mortgage. As Armani stood there daydreaming, amazed by her surroundings, she heard Show’s deep voice.

“The remote over there. Anything you need you can order through the tv.”

Show turned around and started to head out the front door. Armani stopped him.

“Wait! You’re leaving me here alone?”

Show shrugged.

“I gotta get back to the club. Skeet will be finished in about another hour. I’m sure you’ll find something to do with yourself until then.”

Show left the suite and closed the door behind him. Armani shrugged.

“I’m sure I’ll find something to do with myself for an hour too.”

Armani walked to the front door and opened it. She peeked out into the hallway. Empty. Armani closed the door and made a dash for the staircase. She headed straight for the bedroom. She searched the dresser, under the bed, behind cabinets. Nothing. Armani ran downstairs and searched the living room. Nothing. Armani was just about to give up, when a huge painting caught her eye. It didn’t catch her eye because of the beauty of the painting. It caught her eye because it didn’t look like it was hanging sturdy. It seemed to be crooked or something. Armani headed in the direction of the painting and began to see why the painting looked funny. It wasn’t fully pressed against the wall. Half of it was hanging off the wall. Armani didn’t touch it. She was scared it might fall. Instead she tried to look at the wall behind it to figure out why it was hanging there in this way. When she did, her eyes grew wider than the Grand Canyon. There was a big ass safe behind the painting. Armani moved the painting, which she discovered was more like a door. The safe had a huge keypad on it along with a few other buttons and a handle. Armani shrugged before she pulled the handle. That bitch opened! There were stacks and stacks of cash inside. Also a few very expensive looking watches and two diamond rings. Oh, this was the jackpot her and Tyreke had been hoping for, and she was about to clean this muthafucka’ out! Armani frantically searched the living room and kitchen for a bag of some sort. She settled on the bag that was in the trashcan in the kitchen. She poured all of the trash onto the floor before she ran back over to the safe. Armani called Tyreke and held the phone with her shoulder to her ear as she started emptying the contents of the safe out into the bag. She told Tyreke to meet her in the parking lot of the Ritz Carlton. When she told him about the safe, and that she was alone, Tyreke decided that he was coming upstairs. There was probably something in the suite that she was missing, and he was determined to find it. Before Armani could protest, Tyreke had hung up the phone. Two minutes later he was knocking on the door. Armani panicked and looked for somewhere to hide the bag. She got a text from Tyreke telling her to open the door. Armani ran to the door and opened it.

“What are you doing here! I told you to wait in the parking lot!”

“So you can stash on me again before we split the loot? I think the fuck not!”

Tyreke blew past Armani and immediately headed for the staircase. Armani stood there incredulous. What he fuck was he talking about stashing on him? These accusations had literally come from out of nowhere. He’d never even bought the subject up before this. She’d never even thought about not sharing everything they took 50/50. This muthafucka’ was out of his damn mind! Armani promised herself that this was definitely the last job she was ever doing with Tyreke. Armani ran back to the safe to finish cleaning it out. Shortly afterward, she heard the sound of the front door again. This time nobody was knocking. That joint was opening! Skeet stepped inside with a big smile on his face. Almost immediately he knew something was horribly wrong.

“WHAT THE FUCK!?”

Skeet yelled at the top of his lungs. Tyreke must’ve heard what was happening because he appeared at the top of the stairs in the blink of an eye. He wasn’t talking either. He was letting shells fly in Skeet’s direction. Show dived onto Skeet as he threw him to the floor and shielded him from the gunshots at the same time. Armani was out of the line of fire, but she still ducked down and screamed as she covered her ears. Show took one to the back, but he didn’t feel it. He was running on pure adreneline. He rolled over, grabbed his gun, and fired back wildly in the direction of the top of the stairs. A few more shots came from the top of the stairs and then the place went deadly silent. For two whole minutes Armani stayed where she was and tried not to even breath, afraid that any noise would cause the gunfire to start again. Armani stayed still for a few more minutes before she finally got to her feet and hauled ass for the front door. As she arrived at the front door she began to see why it had gotten so quiet after the gunshots stopped. Show and Skeet lay next to one another, both dead as a doorknob.

 

 

Armani ended up leaving the suite and the hotel with nothing except for her life. Even though he’d taken a fatal wound to the back, Show had managed to fire off a few shots and hit Tyreke with three of them as he fired back. One to the shoulder, one to the chest, and one went through the side and pierced an artery. Tyreke fired back down the stairs after he was hit. It was practically out of reflex because he was already on his way to the afterlife. One of the wild shots hit the crouching Skeet smack dab in the back of the head. A wild, wild scene that left Armani in shock for weeks afterward. Armani never got locked up for that either. It only took 48 hours for the police to track her down and bring her in for questioning. She told them someone was in the suite when she arrived with Skeet and Show. And they started shooting, so she ran out of the hotel and never looked back. The police brought it. Who was alive to tell them anything different? Armani was so shook up after that incident, that she barely left the house. She applied for welfare, and spent the rest of her pregnancy sitting in the house watching television. Five months later Armani had a healthy baby boy. She named the child after his deceased step-daddy Tyreke. Armani knew for sure the baby wasn’t Tyreke’s when she looked into her child’s eyes. Armani didn’t hit the streets again until her son was almost a full year old. She didn’t hit the streets like she used to, but she started going outside to go to the store and things of that nature. At the deli on 9th Street was where Armani met Dawud. Dawud hustled on 9th Street and he also lived in the neighborhood. Just like everyone else in the neighborhood, he’d known Armani for years. It had always been a hi and bye type of thing though. Dawud hung out on the corner every day with Damiko and the rest of the 9th Street boys. Damiko and Dawud weren’t best friends, but they’d grown up together, hustled on the same corner, and hung out together as they both worked the corner. I guess that would make them squad? Dawud said little things to Armani for a full week before he actually stopped her to have a conversation. Armani liked Dawud from the start. She used to go to the store three times a day just hoping he would be standing out there on the corner hustling. Armani and Dawud hit it off right after their first conversation. Just like most of Armani’s other boyfriends, Dawud moved into Fendi’s crib with Armani and her young son after one night together. Dawud was a street dude. He was something like Tyreke, but he hustled instead of robbing people. Dawud was not a big time drug dealer. Just like Damiko, Mack, and everyone else on 9th Street, he was flipping a little coke, hoping for the day he would be big time. 9th Street was a freelance corner. Mostly everybody that hustled on 9th Street were selling drugs for themselves, except Dawud. Dawud hustled for dark skinned Jermaine, who had the most coke on the corner. Guys like Damiko and Mack were flipping an ounce on their best days. Jermaine was working with 9 ounces and was clearly on his way to taking over the whole corner. Dawud was the most violent person on the corner, so to prepare for the 9th Street civil war that was surely coming, Jermaine paid Dawud very handsomely to sell weight for him. Dawud was doing pretty well for himself. People avoided getting into any type of drama with Dawud because he was a hothead with an itchy trigger finger and everybody knew it. At home with Armani he was a completely different person. Dawud was a dude who had no kids and longed for the family life. The second he found out little Tyreke’s dad was the dead stick-up kid Tyreke, Dawud claimed the young child as his own. Armani’s heart melted. She was in love again. At 26 years-old, for the first time in her life, Armani actually planned to have a child with someone. Her and Dawud sat down and made plans for their lives and future before they decided to begin trying to make a child. Dawud had an exit plan from the street-life. Two, or maybe three more years of hustling, and he was out of this shit for good. The only problem with Dawud’s exit plan was that it was not a guarantee. His whole shit depended upon gambling. That was his plan. Build up a bankroll of $250,000 and become a professional gambler who spent their days at the casino gambling. It wasn’t a great plan, but it was better than selling drugs. Besides, Armani was happy about it and she encouraged Dawud to chase his dreams. Nothing else really mattered to him.

 

 

Shortly after moving in with Armani, things began going extremely well for Dawud. Fendi had found someone to love her. She packed up her kids and moved across town with her new boyfriend. The project apartment was left to Armani. Without Fendi’s bad ass kids around to break everything, Armani and Dawud decided to hookup the two bedroom apartment. Dawud brought a few huge flat screen televisions, some new leather furniture, and decked out the little balcony. The little apartment in the projects was actually looking like a condo. Spending that kind of money wasn’t a big deal for Dawud. He was “getting it” now. Jermaine had an extraordinary month of August. By mid-September he’d turned the 9 ounces of coke into two kilos. Okay that’s a lie. One of those birds Jermaine had, came from a robbery of his former connect that Jermaine and Dawud had pulled off. Either way you look at it, Jermaine was now working with two bricks. His coke was so good that even his fellow 9th Street hustlers began buying their coke from Jermaine through Dawud. Having a lot of good coke gave Jermaine the leverage he needed to make his move for the entire corner. Jermaine bullied his way into control of half of the corner. From 12pm to 12am no coke was sold on 9th Street except for Jermaine’s. Damiko, Mack, and the other freelancers on the corner agreed to it, but unbeknownst to Jermaine and Dawud, that had been the first shot fired in the pending 9th Street civil war. They were plotting and waiting for the right time to strike a blow to Jermaine and Dawud. On the home front, Dawud proposed to Armani when she was three months pregnant with his child. The couple planned to get married a week after their child was born. Back on the corner, more money meant more problems for Dawud…..ironically the trouble didn’t come from who you’re probably suspecting. Word about good coke spreads. Dawud wasn’t just selling weight to the 9th Street boys. Customers came from all over the tri-state area to cop some of that good work and take back home with them. One of Dawud’s new customers was a guy from Jersey. Camden to be exact. You guessed it. Judge. Judge had took a bit of a fall from grace since the last time he appeared in this story. Judge wasn’t up like he used to be, but he was still very easily Dawud’s best customer. Judge was coming to Philly buying a half a chicken cooked every 8 days or so. Someone buying a half a kilo cooked was very unusual behavior. No one who knew anything about cocaine would purchase that much coke already cooked. It literally defeated the whole purpose of buying that much coke. If a drug dealer was selling crack. He purchased huge amounts of cocaine for mainly one reason. Well, actually two reasons. The first reason was for the wholesale price. You’d never get anything close to that price buying cocaine already cooked. The other reason was for the extra grams that you got after the cook. If you brought 18 ounces and had a halfway decent hand with the whip, you could find yourself with three or four extra ounces. Easy. Pay for 18 ounces, after the cook you’ll be working with 22. Buying 18 ounces already cooked just didn’t make sense to Jermaine or Dawud. There was only one logical explanation for this shit. That muthafucka’ Judge was working with the po-po! Before they decided to overreact, Jermaine took a trip to Camden to do a little research on Judge. A few days spent in Camden showed Judge to be legit. He was not a cop. Either he didn’t know how to cook or have anyone to cook for him, or he couldn’t cook as good as Jermaine so he sold it like he got it. Who knew? The one thing Jermaoine did know was that Judge was legit. So business went on as usual…until near the end of November.

 

 

Dawud personally drove Armani to every doctor’s appointment. On this particular day, Dawud was attempting to juggle a couple of things at the same time. He had his #1 customer coming down today to grab his regular 18 ounces. He called earler and said he would be there at around 12:30. Armani’s doctors appointment was scheduled for 1pm. It was going to be close, but if everything worked out how it should, he would be able to do both on time. Judge and his homie showed up 10 minutes early. Dawud drove to his apartment to grab the work. He told Armani to get little Tyreke ready. He planned to drop the weight off to Judge real quick, then shoot Uptown to Armani’s doctors appointment. There was no use in wasting time going back to the crib to get her after he made the sale. Two birds with one stone. Armani got in Dawud’s Lexus and strapped little Tyreke down in the baby seat in the backseat. Dawud headed up to 9th Street. Judge approached Dawud as he got out of his car. Judge passed Dawud the $12,500 he was carrying inside his Nike sneaker bag. Dawud took the bag and headed to his trunk to get the weight. As Judge stood there talking with his homie, as he waited for Dawud to get his work out of the trunk, Judge took a look inside the passenger’s seat of Dawud’s car. His eyes widened as he saw a face that he definitely recognized. Armani’s eyes widened the minute she saw the recognition in Judge’s eyes. Judge had been fuming ever since that night Armani robbed him. The very next day one of Judge’s stash houses got raided and the cops took $1 million cash from the house. Judge didn’t think Armani had put the cops on him, but he did believe in his heart that her robbing him had been the beginning of his fall from grace. He promised himself that he was going to kill that bitch if he ever saw her again. And here she was. Judge completely lost it. He ran around to the passenger’s side of the car and tried to open the door. Armani saw him coming and locked the door before he got around to her side. Judge began banging on the car’s window.

“BITCH OPEN THE DOOR. I’M A KILL YOUR MUTHARFUCKIN’ THIEVIN’ ASS!”

Dawud looked up from inside the trunk when he heard the commotion. He had no idea what was going on, but he didn’t care. The mother of his child…. or children as far as Dawud was concerned, was being attacked. He reacted. He ran around to the passenger’s side and sucker punched Judge, who dropped to the ground like a sack of bricks. Judge’s homie attacked Dawud from behind. The attack gave Judge time to recover, and he joined in his homie in whipping the fuck out of Dawud on 9th Street. Where were the 9th Street Boys you ask? Remember, Jermaine took over 12 hours of the corner. Nobody else even bothered to come to the corner until midnight when it was their hours to hustle. Judge and his homie pummeled Dawud until he lay on the ground, a bloody mess. Armani screamed as she watched things play out from her seat inside the car. Judge wasn’t done. As Dawud attempted to crawl away, Judge grabbed the weapon from his homie’s waist. He shot Dawud in the back of the head twice at point blank range. Dawud was on his way to meet his maker, but Judge wasn’t done. He pointed the weapon at the car and fired five times before him and his homie took off running toward his car.

 

 

Armani was grazed in the arm by the gunfire. She had been lucky. Little Tyreke had not been so lucky. One of the bullets Judge fired pierced the baby’s little heart as he sat in his car seat drinking juice from his sippy cup. Armani was a complete mess. She checked out of life. She sat in her apartment all day just staring at the wall. Fendi’s oldest daughter came back to the apartment to care for Armani, who wouldn’t even eat. Armani was pregnant. She needed to eat for her and the baby she was carrying to survive. Meanwhile, back out on 9th Street, Mack, Damiko, and the others did not mourn Dawud’s death. When they were outside around others they did. They talked about how they were going to head to Camden and kill everything moving. You take one of ours, we’re gonna take 10 of yours. Yadda, yadda, yadda. They didn’t mean a word of that shit. They didn’t plan on doing shit about Dawud’s murder. They were low-key thankful for what Judge had done. They didn’t know Judge, but he’d basically won the war for them. They hadn’t even had to fire off one shot either. Jermaine’s muscle was gone. He was now food who was living on borrrowed time, and he knew it. Jermaine got the fuck out of dodge and moved to Atlanta with his baby momma. Mack and Damiko took control of 9th Street. Ironically, they broke the corner down the same way Jermaine had. Damiko and his squad had the corner from 12pm until 12am. And Mack and his squad had the corner from 12am until 12pm. Life was funny like that sometimes…..Armani eventually got herself together and started giving a fuck about life again. As her due date got closer, she began getting excited to see her new child. It was all that would be left on this Earth as proof that Dawud had ever been here, except for memories. Judge and his homie’s dumb asses got locked up for two homicides and one attempt about two months after killing Dawud. They beat the attempt charge because Armani refused to testify, but they got booked on the two murders. Judge’s homie snitched on him to avoid the death penalty. He ended up getting natural life. Judge is likely still on death row…to this day.

 

 

The hood is a grimey ass place. If you don’t believe anything else in this story…please believe that! Armani began coming outside on a regular basis again about three months after her son was born. Little Dawud was what she named him. Armani walked to 9th Street’s deli to get food damn near every day. Every day the 9th Street boys told her how sorry they were about what happened to Dawud, how Judge was lucky the cops got him before they did, and told Armani stories about how much of a “real nigga” Dawud was. Dawud loved Armani when he was here, but he never pillow talked with her. Armani had no idea that 9th Street had been in the middle of a civil war around the time of Dawud’s death, and that these same dudes that were giving her condolences, likely would’ve eventually been forced to try to kill Dawud if Judge had not done it for them. She really thought they all were friends. They were all from the same corner. Why would she think anything else? Besides lying to Armani, most of the 9th Street boys were up to some other deceiving shit where Armani was concerned. All of them were low-key trying to put their bid in. Dawud didn’t pillow talk with Armani, but he did frequently brag about how good her pussy was to his boys. The 9th Street Boys all wanted a go at Dawud’s BM….including Mack……and Damiko.

 

 

UP THE LADDER BY KAREEM RAHMAN PRE-ORDER THE FULL BOOK AT AMAZON TODAY! Pre-Order

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NEW ORLEANS PELICANS BIG WINNERS IN 2019 NBA DRAFT LOTTERY

CHICAGO, IL

 

 

 

The NBA draft lottery took place Tuesday night before the start of game-1 of the Western Conference Finals. The NBA draft lottery could’ve easily been renamed the Zion Williamson lottery, as that was the grand prize every team was hoping to take home. The New Orleans Pelicans won the grand prize last night. I’m not a Knicks fan, but I was actually hoping Zion ended up in NY. With Anthony Davis still asking for a trade, I would rather have seen Zion in a big market city. If the Pelicans find a way to get AD to stay in New Orleans, then I can get excited about Zion heading there. AD, Zion, Jrue Holiday, with guys like Julius Randle thrown into the mix would be pretty exciting to see. Anyway, here’s the order for the top 10 picks in this years’ NBA draft:

 

  1. New Orleans Pelicans
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. New York Knicks
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers
  6. Phoenix Suns
  7. Chicago Bulls
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. Washington Wizards
  10. Atlanta Hawks

SOULJA BOY SENTENCED TO 240 DAYS IN JAIL FOR PROBATION VIOLATION

Los Angeles, CA

 

 

 

Rapper Soulja Boy was taken into custody at a court appearance earlier this month and charged with violating the terms of his probation after cops raided his home and found ammunition. Cops originally went to his home investigating a woman’s claims that Soulja Boy had her tied up in his home. Possessing ammunition or a weapon is a violation of Soulja’s Boy’s 2014 probation from a gun charge. Soulja Boy remained in custody as he awaited his court date to find out his fate. On Tuesday morning the judge gave his decision. After claiming to have considered slapping Soulja with as much as a 2-year stay at the County Jail, the judge settled on a 240-day jail sentence, according to TMZ (@tmz)

 

 

 

Soulja Boy was also sentenced to serve 265 days of community service upon release. The judge gave Soulja 40 days credit for time already served. So he’s probably looking at a September – November release date. I’m not sure if he should be happy, sad, or angry right now. All things considered, his sentence could’ve been a lot worse. At least he’ll be out before the year is over.